The Bartlett Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis


CASA’s Professor Michael Batty and Dr Wei Yang announce new collaboration with UKCRIC

27 April 2023

Co-founders of The Digital Task Force for Planning announced new partnership this week to accelerate digital integration infrastructure and urban systems of research in partnership with the UK Collaboratorium for Research on Infrastructure and Cities (UKCRIC).

Professor Chris Rogers, Dr Joanne Leach, Dr Wei Yang standing in front of a PowerPoint slide displaying text "Digital Task Force for Planning and UKCRIC logo". Joanne and Wei are shaking hands.

The Digital Task Force for Planning and the UK Collaboratorium for Research on Infrastructure and Cities (UKCRIC) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to work together to research, develop and apply cutting edge digital research and technology for mainstream spatial planning practice and education, leading to transformative changes for public benefit.  

The Digital Task Force for Planning was initially set up as an independent expert panel by Professor Michael Batty, Emeritus Professor of Planning at the Centre of Advanced Spatial Analysis (CASA) and Dr Wei Yang, Honorary Professor at CASA.  

UCL, a founding partner of UKCRIC, has been working with The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and 13 university partners in this collaboratorium as the delivery partner for the UK government’s investment of £138 million.  

The MOU came into effect on Monday the 24th of April and was signed at the University of Birmingham, home to the National Buried Infrastructure Facility (NBIF), which is part of UKCRIC. 

The partnership will focus on the following areas of joint activity: 

  • Collaborating on national and international research and practical projects 
  • Sharing research resource and facilities 
  • Collaborating on the development of training programmes, events, conferences, awards and case studies to promote multidisciplinary and systemic thinking 
  • Promoting each Party’s key activities and research findings to their networks through events, newsletters and social channels 

Professor Chris Rogers, University of Birmingham, who is on the Board of Directors of the Digital Task Force for Planning and is UKCRIC’s Director of Research Integration, commented, “UKCRIC is delighted to be partnering with The Digital Task Force for Planning and the MOU provides a strong foundation and direction with which to collaborate on research projects that aim to deliver a sea change in the adoption and integration of emerging digital technologies with infrastructure and urban systems advancements”.  

Dr Wei Yang, Co-Founder and CEO of the Digital Task Force for Planning, added, "The Task Force is delighted to join forces with UKCRIC in our journey to reinvigorate the planning profession - creating a reimagined planning profession that can coordinate the best knowledge and advance the most appropriate digital tools and technologies from related disciplines, so that we can achieve a shared vision and create a better future for everyone." 

Professor (Michael) Batty says: “The Digital Taskforce for Planning proposed a series of actions to propel contemporary town and country planning into the 21st century in terms of the rapid development of new digital tools for data and plan-making. These developments were anticipated in the Government's 2020 Planning White Paper. UKCRIC is a key consortium whose members are researching such digital tools focussed on physical infrastructure and applications in practice. The liaison we propose will go a long way to achieving these aims.” 

Dr Joanne Leach, Executive Manager, UKCRIC, added, “It is a privilege to be partnering with the Digital Task Force for Planning. Collaborative, whole systems approaches underpin both our initiatives and are fundamental to tackling so many of the challenges currently being faced in the UK.” 

About the Digital Task Force for Planning  

The Digital Task Force for Planning is an innovation-led social enterprise (not-for-profit organisation) devoted to digital planning, with the ambition to promote digital integration and advancement in Spatial Planning to tackle the grand challenges of the 21st Century. It focuses on the Development part of R&D, and acts as a convenor, facilitator and enabler of digitalisation in mainstream planning practice and education to support the establishment of an integrated ecosystem for spatial planning innovation. 

The Task Force’s report, A Digital Future for Planning – Spatial Planning Reimagined (Batty & Yang, 2022) provides a blueprint for a digitally enabled spatial planning. The Task Force was incorporated as a not-for-profit organisation in Oct 2022. 

About UKCRIC  

UKCRIC is a collaborative national network of leading UK universities with research and development facilities including engineering laboratories; urban observatories; and data analytics, simulation and visualisation capabilities. Through its work with industry, academia, government and end users, UKCRIC is de-risking investments, providing world-leading research facilities and knowledge to trial design options, and is helping to prioritise and provide evidence, analysis and innovation for future infrastructure and urban investments.  

Image from left to tight: Professor Chris Rogers, Dr Joanne Leach, Dr Wei Yang 

For media enquiries, please contact Tim Yates at tim.j.yates@ucl.ac.uk for UKCRIC; Wei Yang at wyang@digital4planning.com for the Digital Task Force for Planning.